Interviewing Tips

Preparing for the Interview

1. Know the exact place and time of the interview, the interviewer’s full name, the correct pronunciation and his or her title.
2. Learn pertinent facts about the company such as annual sales revenue, principal lines of business and locations.
3. Find out why the hiring manager and/or client representative is interested in your qualifications.
4. Determine how the opportunity will impact your immediate and long-term career development.
5. An interview is a “two-way street.” Know what questions to ask during the interview. Your questions allow the hiring manager to evaluate your professional and personal needs. Insightful questions help both of you determine if your relationship will be mutually rewarding. Lastly, the better you understand the opportunity, the more you will be able to communicate your interest in the position.
6. Put you’re best foot forward. Always wear proper attire and greet your interviewer with a firm handshake and an
enthusiastic smile.

The Interview

1. For hiring managers, the “right match” means they have identified individuals capable of performing the immediate challenges. More importantly, they hope the individuals have the potential to be future resources and assets to the firm.

2. The interviewer is the mechanism used to determine the “right match.”

3. You are being interviewed by the hiring manager to determine whether you have the qualifications necessary to do the job and whether a mutually rewarding professional relationship can be formed.

4. Similarly, you must determine whether you can be successful in the available position and whether the company will give you the opportunity for growth and development.

5. Present yourself in the best possible light. However, be yourself; everyone has the same goal – the “right match.”

Some “DOs” and “DON’Ts

1. Do plan to arrive on time or a few minutes early. Late arrival for a job interview is never excusable.

2. If presented with an application, do fill it out neatly and completely. Don’t rely on your application or resume to do the selling for you. Interviewers will want you to speak for yourself.

3. Do greet the interviewer by last name if you are sure of the pronunciation. If not, ask the employer to repeat it. Give the appearance of energy as you walk. Smile! Shake hands firmly. Be genuinely glad to meet the interviewer.

4. Do wait until you are offered a chair before sitting. Sit upright, look alert and interested at all times. Be a good listener as well as a good communicator.

5. Do look a prospective employer in the eye while speaking.

6. Do follow the interviewer’s leads, but try to get the interviewer to describe the position and the duties to you early in the interview so that you can apply your background, skills and accomplishments to the position.

7. Do make sure that your good points come across to the interviewer in a factual, sincere manner. Stress achievements. For example: sales records, processes developed, savings achieved, systems installed, etc.

8. Do always conduct yourself as if you are determined to get the job you are discussing. Never close the door on opportunity.

9. Do show enthusiasm. If you are interested in the opportunity, enthusiastic feedback can enhance your chances of being further considered. If you are not interested, your responsiveness will still demonstrate your professionalism.

10. Don’t forget to bring a copy of your resume! Keep several copies in your briefcase if you are afraid you will forget.

11. Don’t smoke, even if the interviewer does and offers you a cigarette. Do not chew gum.

12. Don’t answer with a simple “yes” or “no.” Explain whenever possible. Describe those things about yourself, which relate to the situation.

13. Don’t lie. Answer questions truthfully, frankly and succinctly.

14. Don’t make unnecessary derogatory remarks about your present or former employers. Obviously, there were issues or else you would not have left a prior company or be looking to leave a present employer. However, when explaining your reasons for leaving, limit your comments to that necessary to adequately communicate your rationale.

15. Don’t over-answer questions. And if the interviewer steers the conversation into politics or controversial issues, try to do more listening than speaking since this could be a sensitive situation.

16. Don’t inquire about salary, vacations, bonuses, retirement, etc., on the initial interview unless you are sure the employer is interested in hiring you. If the interviewer asks what salary you want, indicate what you’ve earned but that you’re more interested in opportunity than in a specific salary.

Be Prepared to Answer Such Questions As…

1. Tell me about yourself?
2. Tell me about your background, accomplishments?
3. What are your strengths? Weaknesses?
4. How would you describe your most recent job performance?
5. What interests you about our company?
6. How do you stay professionally current?
7. What outside activities are most significant to your personal development?
8. What specific goals, including those related to your occupation, have you established for your life?
9. What do you think it takes to be successful in this career?
10. What has been your most rewarding accomplishment?
11. Are you more energized by working with data or by collaborating with other individuals?
12. Are you a goal-oriented person?
13. Given the investment our company will make in hiring and training you, can you give us a reason to hire you?
14. What do you see yourself doing in ten years?
15. Would you say that you can easily deal with high-pressure situations?
16. Before you can make a productive contribution to the company, what degree of training do you feel you will require?
17. Why did you decide to seek a position in this company?
18. What kind of supervisor do you work best for? Provide examples.
19. How do you determine priorities in scheduling your time? Give examples.
20. What has been your experience in giving presentations? What has been your most successful experience in speech making?
21. Tell of the most difficult customer service experience that you have ever had to handle—perhaps an angry or irate customer. Be specific and tell what you did and what the outcome was.
22. Describe a situation where you found yourself dealing with someone who didn’t like you. How did you handle it?
23. What suggestions do you have for our organization?
24. What is the most significant contribution you made to the company during a past job?
25. Describe the system you use for keeping track of multiple projects. How do you track your progress so that you can meet deadlines? How do you stay focused?
26. Tell me about a time when you came up with an innovative solution to a challenge your company/class/organization was facing. What was the challenge? What role did others play?
27. Tell me about a time when you failed to meet a deadline. What things did you fail to do? What were the repercussions? What did you learn?

Close-Ended Questions

  • What was your start and end dates?
  • What was your specific title? Duties? Responsibilities?
  • What was your starting and ending pay?
  • Who were your direct supervisors?
  • What was your specific reason for leaving?

Open-Ended Questions
Questions about past positions:

  • How would you describe your performance at your last position?
  • What do you like most about your current or previous job?
  • What do you like least about your current or previous job?
  • How did you gain your knowledge about this industry?
  • Tell me about the kind of customer contact you have had. Describe a typical day.
  • How did you get the job at your last company?
  • How well did you perform against your quota in the past two or three years?
  • How did your performance rank in your company?
  • How did you handle customer complaints?
  • What kind of reference will you get?

Questions about this job:

  • What are you looking for in a job?
  • What do you look for in a company that you would like to work for?
  • Why should I hire you?
  • Why do you want to work here?
  • What training or qualifications do you have for a job like this?
  • What do you think will be the most challenging aspect of this job?
  • Tell me more about how you will handle this aspect.
  • Why do you want to change jobs?
  • Why will this job be different from others that you have held? Similar to?
  • What are your income expectations from this job?

Questions about work habits:

  • What have you been praised for in the past two years?
  • What have you been criticized for in the past two years?
  • What does a supervisor do to get the best out of you?
  • Give me an example of a work crisis you were in and how you handled it.
  • What would you do if management made a decision you did not like?
  • How do you handle conflict with coworkers?
  • How do you keep track of what needs to be done?
  • Describe a situation where you performed at an exceptionally high level.
  • How do you set goals/manage your time?

Questions about personal characteristics:

  • How would a friend that knows you well describe you?
  • What are the reasons for your success?
  • How do you establish working relationships with new people?

Questions about values:

  • What is your primary interest? Money? Power? Leisure time? Why?
  • How would you describe success?
  • How would you describe a successful career?
  • Who do you admire and why?
  • What would you do if you saw another employee steal money from the register?
  • What would you do if you could not master a new computer program in the time expected by your employer?
  • What would you do if you made an important business decision and another employee changed it?
  • What would you do if another employee was performing her job incorrectly?
  • What would you do if a child began screaming in the middle of the store and you saw that it was upsetting the other customers?
  • What would you do if a customer left behind a sloppy mess?
  • Would you feel uncomfortable switching to another department for the day if they were short staffed?

Questions about attitude:

  • What is the biggest challenge you’ve ever faced? How did you handle it?
  • How long will it take you to make a contribution here?
  • What do you expect from your employers?
  • Describe the ideal supervisor.
  • Think of a time you have seen another person show poor judgment with a customer. Describe what happened.
  • Describe the most boring job you’ve ever had to do.
  • Show me how you would greet a customer coming into the store (office).

Questions about capabilities:

  • What are your strengths/weaknesses?
  • How can you take advantage of your strengths? Compensate for your weaknesses?
  • What job would you like to be doing in the next five years?
  • What are your long-term career plans?
  • What training do you have that might be of use to this company?
  • Describe an experience when you were asked to do something you were not trained to do. How did you handle it?

Negative Factors Evaluated by an Interviewer

1. Personal appearance which is less than professional.
2. Overbearing, overaggressive or egotistical behavior.
3. No positive purpose.
4. Lack of interest and enthusiasm — passive and indifferent.
5. Lack of confidence and poise; nervousness.
6. Overemphasis on compensation.
7. Evasiveness; making excuses for unfavorable factors in work history.
8. Lack of tact, maturity and courtesy.
9. Condemnation of past employers, managers, projects or technologies.
10. Inability to maintain a conversation.
11. Lack of commitment to fill the position at hand.
12. Failure to ask questions about the position.
13. Persistent attitude of “What can you do for me?”
14. Lack of preparation for interview — failure to get information about the company, resulting in inability to ask intelligent questions.

Closing the Interview

1. If you are interested in the position, let the interviewer know. If you feel the position is attractive and you want it, be a good salesperson and say something like: “I’m very impressed with what I’ve seen here today; your company, its products and the people I’ve met. I am confident I could do an excellent job in the position you’ve described to me.” The interviewer will be impressed with your enthusiasm.

2. Don’t be too discouraged if no immediate commitment is made. The interviewer will probably want to communicate with other people in the company or possibly interview more candidates before making a decision.

3. If you get the impression that the interview is not going well and that you have already been rejected, don’t let your discouragement show. Once in a while an interviewer who is genuinely interested in you may seem to discourage you as a way of testing your reaction.

4. Thank the interviewer for his or her time and consideration. If you have answered the two questions– “Why are you interested in this position?” and “What can you offer?”– you have done all you can.


In a recent survey, more than 150 companies were asked the question, “Why don’t you hire an applicant who is capable of doing the job?” Read their responses, and keep them in mind when preparing for your next interview.

1. Poor personal appearance
2. Lack of interest and enthusiasm
3. Over-emphasis on money
4. Condemnation of past employers
5. Failure to look at interviewer while conversing
6. Limp, fishy handshake
7. Unwillingness to go where sent
8. Lateness to interview
9. Failure to express appreciation for interviewer’s time
10. Asks no questions about the job
11. Indefinite response to questions
12. Overbearing, over-aggressive, conceited “know-it-all” complex
13. Inability to express oneself clearly
14. Lack of planning for career: no purpose or goals
15. Lack of confidence, uneasiness
16. Failure to participate in activities
17. Unwillingness to start at bottom
18. Excuses, evasiveness
19. Untruthfulness
20. Lack of manners, courtesy
21. Lack of maturity
22. Lack of vitality
23. Indecision
24. Merely shopping around